Christmas Happiness

We counted down the days.  We wrapped all the gifts.  We got excited for the love and sharing.   Then in a short burst of energy way too early in the morning, the gifts have been opened, the food begins to flow and we settle in to the holiday spirit. The sharing, the caring, the specialness of this one day where we are supposed to enjoy all the blessings we have.  Today is special, celebrate damn it!    And we do.  All except one family member:  

She is doing the same thing she does everyday:   sitting on the bed, sunbathing.  A girl needs her vitamin D, don't you know. 

Hey lady, don't you want to play with your new toys?    Nope.

What about coming out to say hi?   Nope. 

And I realized she is happy there.  Warm sunshine makes her happy and so that is what she wants to do on Christmas.   Then I realized if she is happy doing that, that is what she should do.  But it's such an every day thing!  So boring!  It's the day to share and care and all that.   Then I further realized if she has incorporated happiness into her day every day, she gets to have a little piece of Christmas every day.  No need to save it up for one day a year.

I resolve to bring a little Christmas into each day by doing something I love to do or that makes someone else happy.   I hope you will, too. 

Happy Holidays!

What Matters

Today I received a stellar review, and acknowledgement from the head of my division in front of a large group of people of my achievements at work. Later I received an email that the shy, stand-offish cat that I've spent time playing with in my volunteer work at the local shelter, the cat that just recently came out of her shell and come over to head butt me has been adopted. The later is the thing that matters most and that I'm most proud of. I need a new job/a new jam. Good luck and have a wonderful life, Patches. I will miss your sweet face.

BEA / Bookcon 14

BEA is a magical event, where folks in the publishing industry gather to share their love of books to be published, authors come to meet an sign these books, books are handed out like candy (That last part is my favorite). I love BEA. I love a celebration of books and writing. I love being around others who celebrate books and writing.

Here is my haul: BEA haul

I really enjoy seeing other people's BEA haul photos. Every one as different as a snowflake, which shows there are diverse attendees as well as diverse book offerings, if not diverse speakers at Bookcon.

So it pains me to complain, but that won't stop me (I can't complain, but sometimes I still do). Last year I attended only on 'Power Readers' day and I felt like a second class citizen, though attendees had access to the full show. Being there on the last day came across as the mark of someone not serious about books. This year I attended 'real' BEA as well as the new 'Bookcon', which at the very least meant I was spared having to wear a badge with John Grisham's picture, with the label 'adult'. The lack of diversity on the panels has been well covered, examples here and here, leading to the addition of a well attended diversity panel. Pretty uncool...

However, on the day, there a few more offensive things: 1. The segregation of the Bookcon attendees from the BEA attendees. I'd love to hear the reasons for that decision, but I can say from speaking to other attendees, it came across as: the book loving general public isn't good enough to interact with those in the trade. Hello, these people are your customers. They buy the books, they discuss the books in book clubs, they rave to their friends. They aren't the great unwashed.

2. Complete lack of preparedness for the number of attendees From the size of Bookcon corralled area, to the Bookcon employees/volunteers, to the size of the rooms, no one knew how to handle the crowd, especially how to handle long lines. I pitied the volunteers at the main doors having to explain over and over to Bookcon attendees that they had to use a different door. The attendees stared with a lack of comprehension, because was it was comprehensible. There were times when in was simply impossible to move. While standing trying to plot the next move, the woman next to me said: this is the line for Grumpy Cat. We've in it since 10:30 am. Her facial expression resembled Grumpy Cat's and it said: I will be cut you, bitch, if you think you're getting in front of us in this line. I made a hasty move away. In fact, I traversed over to the main, almost crowd free, BEA floor to recover.

Here are some suggestions: ticket the events you know will be popular. The Macmillian panels were all ticketed, and there were maybe 50 people at them. You really should anticipate the interest in Grumpy Cat, Amy Pohler and John Green. To see Amy, There is no excuse for some of the heartbroken tweets I saw from tweens and their parents, devastated at waiting two hours to see John Green, but couldn't get in.

All of which led to: this is the closet I got to Grumpy Cat 20140601_092121_resized_ grumpy

I'm joking. I would have loved to meet Grumpy Cat, but one must make prioritization decisions. The line for Grumpy's noon appearance started forming around 10am. The opportunity cost was too great. Sorry, Grumpy. Catch you some other time.

I realize this post is whiny. I'm just frustrated that would could have been an outstanding day was marred. However, the enthusiasm for books is real, the volume of people who wanted to celebrate books and writing is real and that we have an opportunity to do so is real. For that we should be happy.

In the end, perhaps my favorite experience of BEA / Bookcon was walking in Saturday morning behind a Mom and her three daughters, ages 10 - 15ish. One of girls started skipping with enthusiasm, announcing: we're here! we're here! Another generation of book lovers has arrived.

Got to go. I've got some reading to do..

End of the Year Wrap Up

I have been thinking about all the things to say about a whole year gone by of life, but none of them really sums it up like Steve Silva's video of the Boston Marathon bombings. Watch it to see the joy of the day, followed by the horror, then watch as members of the Boston Police Department and other first responders run toward where the bombs went off. Toward it. Watch them manually rip down the barriers meant to keep the crowd off the street so the runners can run so they can get to them. Watch medical people run from the medical tents after the finish line back to the spot. And finally watch out Steve Silva doesn't once try to take a salacious, graphic shot of the injured. Bravo. Disclaimer, as in the Boston Globe: This is raw, unedited footage. It is not for everyone.

These poor Marathon volunteers who earlier probably thought the hardest part of the gig that day would be donning that hideous yellow jacket, not keeping journalists away and I have to imagine at some point, family members.

I was about a mile away, in Kenmore having just come out of the Red Sox game (and I would be remiss to not mention Napoli hit a walk off that day). We were SO happy, until the minute we went came out on the Comm Ave side of the Kenmore T stop and were walking by a line of parked police motorcycles. Suddenly one of the them yelled into his shoulder: major explosion.. everyone roll out. And the police came from everywhere. It was an impressive and terrifying display. We then watched police stream in from municipalities near and far. I asked twitter to tell me why and sadly, it did. In real, terrifying, time.

Four days later my city, a major US city, went on lockdown. Lockdown. Amazing. Terrifying. I stayed up all night the night of the chase/gunfight. TV, laptop, ipad and cell phone going. I watched a gun fight on live tv. I watched tanks and men in swat gear walk down the streets of a place ten minutes from where I grew up. It was surreal and still somewhat unbelievable to me even now. That same we we had a reorg at work and my job was eliminated. It did not seem to matter anywhere near as much (it still consider it to be the least important thing to happen that week, though I did end up landing on my feet).

Boston is my home. Patriot's Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I know much has been written, discussed, and analyzed about this event by people more eloquent than I, but this was personal. Not as personal as for the three lives lost that day or Thurs night, or for any of the multitude of injured, but it hurt, it really, really hurt. That hurt is only tempered by the site of those first responders going toward it, of the site of catching the guy and the pride in seeing the people who came out of their homes after being locked down all day to line the street to applaud the police.

Then there was Papi (I'm writing this wearing a 'This is our fucking city' t-shirt) and the Red Sox. The little, bearded team that could. These are the two things I will take away from this year. What others should take away is: This IS our fucking city, do NOT mess with us. I couldn't be more proud, nor do I have any desire to live anywhere else (even though tomorrow we're looking at 12+ inches of snow). I was on Boylston St. the first night it re-opened (and I have the picture of Anderson Cooper to prove it). I was at Fenway the first game we could get tickets for and will absolutely be back there for next year's Patriot's Day game.

These two of the three things I'll remember most this year. The third was adopting the owner of this sweet face: 001 crop, who knows nothing about any of these things.

A Cat's Life

You might think with age comes experience and wisdom.. sometimes yes, sometimes no In the case of me and my cat, no. Yes, I grew up with both a dog and a cat, but we had them from the time they were babies. They knew us, they were of us. They never knew a bad day. My current cat chose me seven months ago. Poor baby was locked in a cage in a shelter, having at the age of two been turned in by a couple who 'found' her and kept her only for six months. How could they give her up? She is literally the cutest cat on the planet. See for yourself: 001 crop

She made clear to me from our first meeting that trust was not her middle name. That she did NOT want to play with me, but yet she did NOT like the shelter, no not one bit (though everyone there was ever so nice to her). I met her, I loved her sweet face, but she wanted no part of me. Until at the end of our second visit together, when I just wasn't sure if she would ever tolerate me, I left my hand in her cat bed and she put her paw on top of it and looked at me as if to say: please don't leave me here. Then I knew: this is a creature that just needs someone to love her.

And so my baby came home to stay. Ahem, she would like me to tell you that she decided to come home to check out my home, but now it really belongs to her (all true). What I didn't know was that a relationship with a pet can develop just as a relationship with a person. Trust has to be built over time, especially when one party has been hurt in the past. This is a kitty who did not like being pet and despises being picked up. I count our milestones: - the day she came out from hiding under the bed (after a week of laying on the bed and trying to play with her via toys) - the day she ate in front of me, rather than scurrying to the food dish when I was in another room - the day she came and hung out in the living room - the day she sat on the left side of the couch, looked around and said: this is where I sit:

couch

- the day she stopped flinching when I tried to pet her (something which made my heart literally hurt and want to curse whoever was mean to her in previous days) - the day she let me cut her nails without screaming bloody murder - the day she rubbed against my leg when we returned home from a trip to the vet. A trip where she cried the entire way in the car and the entire way home, terrified. No, no, baby... no one will ever leave you in some strange, scary place again. - the night she decided: I will sleep in bed with you, now. - the night she got her moxy to demand the place she wants to sleep in the bed. - the day she came and curled up at my feet as I was writing

I know we have a long way to go, but I now see that with love and acceptance, you can heel a creatures broken heart. Cats that act out just need love and attention to their needs. Trust me, they will respond. A lesson perhaps we should all learn (adopt your pet!), not only relating to the animals in our lives, but the people as well.